Free Markets, Free People


It’s Always The “Conservatives” … (Update)

It couldn’t possibly be independents and libertarians objecting as well could it?

School districts from Maryland to Texas are fielding angry complaints from parents opposed to President Barack Obama’s back-to-school address Tuesday – forcing districts to find ways to shield students from the speech as conservative opposition to Obama spills into the nation’s classrooms.

The White House says Obama’s address is a sort of pep talk for the nation’s schoolchildren. But conservative commentators have criticized Obama for trying to “indoctrinate” students to his liberal beliefs, and some parents call it an improper mix of politics and education.

“The gist is, ‘I want to see what the president has to say before you expose it to my child.’ Another said, ‘This is Marxist propaganda.’ They are very hostile,” said Patricia O’Neill, a Democrat who is vice president of the Montgomery County School Board, in a district that borders Washington, D.C. “I think it’s disturbing that people don’t want to hear the president, but we live in a diverse society.”

The White House moved Thursday to quell the controversy. First it revised an Education Department lesson plan that drew the ire of conservatives because it called for students to write letters about how they can help the president.

One more time for the slow and stupid, i.e. the media – this is about a president presuming to speak directly to our children without our permission. It’s not so much about the message, it’s the presumption. To me that’s a presumption which he has no right to make. If he wants to speak to the nation on national TV I, as an adult, have the ability to choose whether or not to watch him or instead a Braves’ game. If he wants to talk about education and address children, I’ll put mine in front of the TV if I think what he’ll have to say is useful and necessary. That’s a parent’s job and a politician – any politician – presuming he is above such parental control or choice is just flat wrong.

As this was originally planned, although it appears some school districts are now going to provide an alternate activity for those who object, this was to be a captive audience forced to watch the message. Many parents, not just conservative parents, understand the ability for something like this to be abused. Again, it’s not so much about the message as it is about the precedent.

Lastly, many of the objections haven’t been focused on the speech but the fact that this is an organized event with a lesson plan that, until the outcry, had some portions where were obviously political. And that’s the opinion of more than just conservatives (the White House dropped some of those more obvious portions from the lesson plan).

So to boil it down so even the media can figure it out – it isn’t just conservatives objecting to this. More importantly, it’s about the 3 “p’s” – presumption, precedent and politics.

Oh, and concerning the tu quoque?

Obama isn’t the first president to be criticized this way. O’Neill recalled President George H. W. Bush made televised address to students in October 1991 as campaign season was heating up. A handful of Democrats denounced Bush’s address as pure politics. Bush asked students to “take control” of their education and to write him a letter about ways students could help him achieve his goals, strikingly similar to Obama’s messages.

Yeah, that was wrong as well. Okay? This president as with any president has more than enough to do without presuming he’s welcome to become the national daddy. Why don’t we refrain from centralizing that too and concentrate on taking over another car company or something instead?

UPDATE: Speaking of outrage (and disengenuousness) – I have to ask, given this bit of outrage from the left (and speaking of tu quoque), would this line of reasoning have survived an attempt by George W. Bush to do the same thing?

More broadly, Obama is the leader of this entire nation. It doesn’t matter if you voted for him–or even if your head threatens to explode every time you think about him. He is the president, and, as such, it’s a big deal that he’s speaking directly to students about the importance of education.

Just sayin’…

~McQ

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24 Responses to It’s Always The “Conservatives” … (Update)

  • No, this is conservative partisan idiocy. Schools have guest speakers all the time who “speak to children” without a parent’s permission. Every school child learns about the Presidency and the President, many write letters to the President, and learn to respect the person and the office. This happens whether it’s Bush, Obama or whoever. Presidents have spoken to children before. The response by the right borders on the insane — and may be a sign that they’ve stepped so far away from the mainstream that they are becoming a caricature. Oh no, the President of our country will talk to the children! Sheesh, do you know how silly these complaints sound. It’s the President, people should be glad the President is taking the time to talk to our children — Republican or Democratic. It connects them to the political system, gets them to learn about and understand how democracy works. To make this a partisan fight is a sign that our democracy is weakening as some put partisan jihad above common sense.

    • Scott, you were clearly in a coma for the last 8 years.

    • Scott, I think the President has earned this response. The fact the government was also handing out material to be used to reinforce the message indicated it was more than “just talking to the children”.

      Obama has never left campaign mode. His solution to everything is “give a speech”. Since he uses his speeches mostly to push his policies, there is a concern that he will continue that approach with the children.

      Rick

    • “I SERVE AS A TEACHER”

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    • To make this a partisan fight is a sign that our democracy is weakening as some put partisan jihad above common sense.

      ***

      Yeah, it’s not as if some people were hoping we’d lose a war just to hurt the President! Oh wait…. well, it’s not like some believed our President deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen for political gain! Oh wait….well, at least it’s not like a political party voted for war when it was politically popular, and then when opinions turned, spent 4+ years whining they were “lied” to! Oh wait….

      Anything else you want to open up your yap about?

    • No, this is conservative partisan idiocy. Any time you dense righties oppose wise leftist indoctrination, it’s idiocy by definition because we’re so smart and you’re so stupid. Schools have guest speakers all the time who “speak to children” without a parent’s permission. Almost all of them are, of course, wise leftists, because it would be morally wrong to expose vulnerable school children to the rantings of a dense rightie.

      Every school child learns about the Presidency and the President, many write letters to the President, and learn to respect the person and the office. This happens whether it’s Bush, Obama or whoever. And those teachers who were caught raving about how bad Bush were are just fringe cases – most teachers do a much better job of gently explaining the deficiencies of Republicans and the virtues of Democrats.

      Presidents have spoken to children before. And that makes it all right. I decree it. Besides, the holy principle of moral equivalence says any act by the right can be magnified a thousand times by the left if we so choose, and we are still above criticism. The response by the right borders on the insane. How could you possibly call Obama, with his Christlike visage, creepy? He’s a wise, wonderful man who thinks like me, and he’s going to save us. I mean, yes, I’ve admitted the stimulus thing was a bad idea, but now that gives me cover to keep harping that everything else he does is wise and good and perfect, including indoctrination of schoolchildren, no matter what feeble protests are done by insane righties. Those may be a sign that they’ve stepped so far away from the mainstream that they are becoming a caricature. Oh no, the President of our country will talk to the children! Sheesh, do you know how silly these complaints sound. It’s the President, people should be glad the President is taking the time to talk to our children — Republican or Democratic. Especially Democratic, because it will inspire them to serve Obama the same way as those people in the video. It also connects them to the political system, and we wise leftists want to get them young because it’s so much easier to make them see the beauty and wonder of wise leftism at that stage, before they actually start thinking for themselves. It gets them to learn about and understand how democracy works, and how wonderful it is that democracy can produce a man with such a Christlike visage who thinks like me and is going to save our country from insane righties.

      To make this a partisan fight is a sign that our democracy is weakening as some put partisan jihad above common sense. Oh, dear, that sentence doesn’t make much sense, does it? But it sounded so good and reflected my own anger so well in my head, I think I’ll leave it.

    • so far away from the mainstream

      Like so many of your ilk, kith or kin, it is unfathomable to you that YOU are NOT the mainstream. Carry on boob, your flailing is always entertaining.

    • This is at least the second time you try to trivialize the issue by stripping it of context. Yes, schools invite speakers to talk to children all of the time. They invite people to talk to a single class, or (on far less common occasions) the entire school. The schools arrange for these appearances, and bear responsibility for them.

      And yes, schools may provide civics lessons and ask children to right letters to the President or to their local representatives as a way of promoting interest in politics and teaching them to get involved at an early age. Again, the schools (down to the individual teachers) arrange and manage this activity, and bear responsibility for it.

      That’s very different from the President of the USA scheduling airtime with all of the schools in the nation and providing a packet of teaching and activity materials. This is not your local teacher or school board arranging this, it’s the federal government. It’s a disturbing overreach in my mind, and I’m glad to see parents across the nation objecting to such intrusion in their local classrooms.

  • While what the government is doing is wrong it is the status quo. I hate the idea of the President talking to the children. Why do we put so much value in being connected to a political system that is nothing but mob rule?
    I place a lot of blame on the parents though, they have grown complacent and rely on the government for education. These are government schools and the government will do what it wishes. I hope Scott is right though, maybe the silver lining is that this is showing our democracy is weakening.

  • The real shame here is that everybody, both supporters and critics, believe in their hearts that the President of the United States would (or should) use this speech to pitch a political agenda to school children.

    Has the office been debased that much in a mere 7 months ?

  • “I think it’s disturbing that people don’t want to hear the president”

    Now THERE’S a disturbing quote….

  • I’ll be the first to admit that, if we choose to send our kids to the government propaganda camps then we shouldn’t be surprised when that’s what they get!

    I talk to my kids a lot about these things – in fact they get tired of hearing me talk about it. I think, when they go to school, it is an “escape” from the insane world we’ve forced them to live in. They don’t want politics coming in, and they are going to consider this oh so boring. And I don’t blame them. I never listen to the president’s speeches, no matter who the president is. Presidential speeches are propaganda, pure and simple. However, I do read their bills and try to keep up with the crap they actually *do*, as opposed to what they *say* ;-)

    The lesson plan requires critical thinking skills and abstract answers to abstract questions. The dept of education has done its best to educate these skills *out* of children. The kids will sense the disconnect, even if they don’t understand it, and the result will be even more, perhaps latent, feelings of confusion and frustration.

    School, like politics, is all about ignoring reality. This causes inner stress in kids as well as adults. This stress manifests itself in a variety of social problems. Unfortunately, our “wise” leaders simply see this as another opportunity to legislate goodies to their friends… and the cycle continues.

    Teach kids to think for themselves – and then trust them to do it.

    • This isn’t about the propaganda content of the speech.

      Its about it going to children separate from their parents and separate from school boards which should be accountable to their localities.

      There’s nothing wrong with the President giving a public speech over the Networks and asking parents to call the kids over for a pep talk. Then its the parents choice and the parent is able to react to anything they considered propaganda.

      The problem is NOT what is said. In fact, I’d expect this speech to be quite benign. Its that its being said directly to kids (who are by definition malleable) without parental input. And the precedent it sets because the next time the speech may not be benign.

  • What better time than now for children to learn that the president is full of excrement?

  • Had The Annointed One confined himself to merely speaking about the virtues of hard work and perserverence in getting the best education our lousy public school system can offer, he would likely have been just fine. In principle, there’s nothing wrong with the president doing that sort of thing.

    Where TAO (typically) overreached was when his Education Department issued those creepy “lesson plans” that turned what should have been a bit of pap into something orwellian.

    Bah.

    NeoThe real shame here is that everybody, both supporters and critics, believe in their hearts that the President of the United States would (or should) use this speech to pitch a political agenda to school children.

    Agreed.

  • I think Obama should simply release the text of his speech. If its simply about “work hard in school” then a lot of opposition will fall away.

    Of course, that would be too much to ask, I guess.

  • “It’s Always The “Conservatives” … It couldn’t possibly be independents and libertarians objecting as well could it?”

    Or liberals? Is it so inconceivably that there are also fiscally conservative liberals, socially conservative liberals, or civil libertarian liberals among those expressing concern at what at least has the appearance of political indoctrination in the classroom.

    As for the argument some have made to let the children make their own decision and trust their judgment, it is scientific fact that cognitive ability is not yet fully developed in children and they therefore have more credulity than adults. If that weren’t true, there would be no justification for age limits on operating a motor vehicle, consuming alcohol, smoking, voting, holding a job, or serving in the military.

    • It goes without saying (but it looks like I’ll have to say it) that we don’t just throw our kids to the wolves. We try to provide them with all the support and guidance we possibly can.

  • Perhaps it would be best if we kept all politics, social opinions, and false self esteem programs out of school curriculums, and just stick to the basics of educating students.

    Inforcing acceptable behavior, and interactive standards in schools would afford students the same rights as we demand from each other publicly; and a Boot Camp program for those that have trouble adjusting.

    Not only should the States control how their schools are run, but the curriculums should be strongly influenced by a true Parent-Teacher organization.

    The only Federal involvement should be the establishment of a basic education standard.

    I am sure that many would consider these suggestions archaic, but other than the Boot Camp, they worked when our education system ranked much higher in the world than it does today.

    If we are to change our Country for the better, we must dedicate ourselves to doing just that.

  • ….had some portions where were obviously political.
    ———————-

    ALL of it is political, he’s a politician, remember?

  • Perhaps that class time could be better spent learning to read or something equally important, rather than listening to some political hack who is in love with the sound of his own voice. The last person children need to hear from in their schools is a politician.

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